Investing in playing cards?
The world of playing cards
Most of us use playing cards for the occasional games with friends and family and so investing in them may seem like a pretty absurd concept. While that is largely true, there is a whole wide world of playing cards which you may not be exposed to.
Doing a bit of magic myself, I have dived into this world and I thought Ill share about it here. Similar to sneakers and watches there is a very small niche market for playing cards which is largely dominated by casinos and magicians.
Since magicians practice a lot, they tend to spend an insane amount on decks of playing cards. They usually buy a slab of cards which is basically 12 decks. They run through these cards at an incredible pace and hence are always in the market looking for more decks. The United States playing card company is said to have generated close to 112 million US dollars in 2018 by simply selling playing cards.
Magicians also tend to use really beautiful and artistic playing cards. This gives rise to a resale market where a limited quantity of designer playing cards is released. People buy them and then later try to resell them on platforms like eBay. It's a small market but there are a lot of people who are crazy about such stuff. Many celebrities also tend to have their own personalized decks. Neil Patrick Harris ( who is also a magician)has his own deck. Even Drake has his own deck of cards. What's also interesting is to see just how expensive some playing cards can get. For example, Louis Vuitton released playing cards that cost an absurd Rs 42000. The Green rarebit playing cards range close to Rs 10000. Ofcourse this is not what most cards are priced at. However, even most designer cards are not cheap. You could end up paying around Rs 700-1200 for a good deck. (10-15 Dollars).
Who manufacturers these playing cards?
The Cartamundi Group is a company based in Turnhout, Belgium, that manufactures, produces, and sells board games, card games, and ofcourse playing cards. They acquired the Unites States Playing card company in 2019. As touched on earlier, The United States Playing Card Company is a large American producer and distributor of playing cards. Its brands include Bicycle, Bee, Tally-Ho, Congress, Hoyle, Aviator, Aristocrat, and KEM. (Yes those are playing card brands)The bicycle brand is probably the most popular brand and is used by most magicians. (Image above).
Crowdsourced playing cards?
People often want to design their own playing cards and USPC offers this service. Unfortunately, though it can be very costly to manufacture one single deck and so that gives rise to a crowdsourcing market for playing cards. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have tons of playing card projects which only go into production if a certain funding goal is met. As I said it's a whole market.
Should you invest in playing cards?
My personal opinion is that No, you should not invest in playing cards. The market is far too illiquid. The goal of every investment is appreciation and it is very difficult to ascertain which playing card may see this appreciation. Furthermore, unlike sneakers, there really isn't something like StockX and so it's not super easy to find a buyer. If you want to though, check out the Playingcardsmarket Reddit group. eBay ofcourse is another common option.
Should I buy these cool playing cards?
I enjoy collecting these cards so clearly, my opinion here would be biased. If you have around Rs 1000($10-$15) to spend then yes, I would definitely urge you to buy one of these decks. Chances are you have not spent that much money on a deck(cause you are wise) and so you probably don't know just how gorgeous and intricate the work on a deck can be. Furthermore, magicians use decks to perform sleight of hand and so the decks need to be far smoother than the deck which you may be using for card games.
While Amazon has some decks, I would urge you to visit a magic store or website to truly get an idea of how crazy the playing card market is. Below I share some websites which may be fun exploring.
The list is endless but those are some websites that I have personally tried.